Life

What is the 11-minute workout the King does to keep fit?

Here’s everything you need to know.

5BX’s gradual progression allows older individuals to start at a manageable level
King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrive to attend a Sunday church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. Picture date: Sunday February 4, 2024. 5BX’s gradual progression allows older individuals to start at a manageable level (Joe Giddens/PA)

The King wants to continue his daily exercise routine alongside his outpatient cancer treatment, aides have reportedly said.

According to The Times, Charles still plans to attend his daily red boxes of government documents and maintain weekly audiences with the Prime Minister – even if it has to be done virtually.

The King has followed the 5BX fitness regime for the last decade, it was reported.

King Charles III cancer diagnosis (Victoria Jones/PA)

What does 5BX entail?

The 5BX Plan (also known as the Five Basic Exercises) was devised by Dr. Bill Orban for the Royal Canadian Air Force in the late 1950s.

“The workout consists of five different core exercises, four callisthenics and one cardio; these include stretches, sit-ups, back extensions, push-ups and running,” said Harry Wilkinson, a training expert at Bulk.

“The plan is comprised of six charts arranged in increasing order of difficulty. Each chart is composed of the aforementioned exercises that are performed within 11 minutes. The five basic exercises remain the same throughout the charts, but more difficult variations are introduced, and the number of repetitions increases.

“The chart is designed so you work through the levels until you reach the appropriate one for your age. The first levels may be very easy however as you work your way up it should become much more physically exerting.”

King Charles III cancer diagnosis (Alamy Stock Photo)

What are the potential benefits?

According to Lee Mitchell, a personal trainer at Jogger, for an older person, the 5BX Plan offers several advantages.

“Firstly, its emphasis on basic movements targets key muscle groups, aiding in improving strength, flexibility and balance, which are crucial for maintaining mobility and preventing injuries as one ages,” he said.

“Secondly, the programme’s gradual progression allows older individuals to start at a manageable level and safely increase intensity as they build strength and endurance, mitigating the risk of overexertion or strain.

“Additionally, the convenience and simplicity of the exercises make it accessible for older adults who may have limited time, space or access to specialised equipment, allowing them to effectively incorporate physical activity into their daily routine and promote overall health and wellbeing.”

Sarah Spence, personal trainer and online coach, agreed and said muscle-mind connection is key.

healthy senior asian man running exercising outdoors (Alamy Stock Photo)

“It’s about knowing where you are supposed to be feeling the tension in your muscles. Can you feel your abs working when you do your sit-ups? Muscle-mind connection is about your body telling you if you are doing the exercise right or wrong, it can be a very good guide. If doing an exercise hurts, you are mostly doing it wrong,” said Spence.

Can it help you reach your fitness goals?

Penny Westen, a nutrition, wellness and fitness expert and the director of Moddershall Oaks Country Spa Retreat, acknowledges that the 5BX fitness plan is a tough workout – especially if you’ve been inactive for some time – but worth it, and ideal for anyone looking to get fit and doesn’t have much time on their hands.

“It is very similar to most of the HIIT classes we see now, so not much has changed,” said Westen, who is also the founder of MADE wellness centre and MADE on demand, an online wellness platform.

“There are some other exercises I would include in there though, such as glute bridges, they are a great way to build strength in your glutes but also stability in your core. I would also say that stretching pre and post-exercise is just as important as the actual workout, and with the quick HIIT workouts, a lot of people can forget about this.

“However, it depends on what your fitness goals are. To lose weight, you will need to do around 60 minutes of fairly intense activity a day and keep calories in check. This will of course vary depending on your diet, weight and age.

“You can dedicate two days to resistance training, allowing muscles to tone. For building muscle, you want to focus on two muscle groups per session and to not work on the same muscles two days in a row as you want to allow them time to recover.

“For general fitness, if your goal is for endurance or burning calories, I recommend three days of cardio and two of strength training. If your goal is building strength, you can reverse that. You can also switch it each week.”